Here are 18 English words that have a slightly different meaning in Singapore. These words should be used with caution when travelling to English speaking countries.
Part 2 can be found here
Conveying either a lack of any activity, a state of stupor or stunned bewilderment. While it may owe its origins to it, the local use of the term seems to lack any connection with drug-use.
A state of mind which occurs after smoking enough marijuana to the point where the user stares blankly into whatever catches his/her attention, and giggles.
If you say you are stoned in the UK or the USA you may be hassled for some weed.
To live (in a place). From Malay “tinggal”. – “My grandmother, my aunt and uncle also stay next door.”
Live somewhere temporarily as a visitor or guest. Live is permanent – if you live somewhere, that place is your home, that is where all your things are. If you go away on holiday or on a business trip, you will stay somewhere, most likely a hotel.
You go on vacation and stay at a hotel, but you live in Tampines.
Broken down. From the Malay word ‘rosak’, which means both ‘broken’ (computer, door etc) and ‘spoilt’ with regards to food.
1. To ruin. For example: ‘She spoilt the movie by telling us the ending’.
2. To pamper. For example: ‘That boy is so spoilt. His parents buy him everything he asks for’.
3. (Of food) To go off or become bad. For example: ‘That food will spoil if you leave it out’.
Toys break; equipment gets damaged; but food spoils and children are spoilt
To take (i.e. drive) somebody somewhere – “I’ll send you home”.
Send – cause to go or be taken to a destination. “Send” is used when something (or someone) goes away from you, but you don’t go along. When you send a letter, you don’t get into the mailbox and go with it.
Be careful, the assumed ending to the phrase “I’ll send you home”, is one of the following:
- “in an ambulance”
- “in a body bag”
- “in little pieces”
5. Last time
Any event previously, in the past – “Last time, in kampong, we are very poor.“
“Last time” refers to a specific occurrence of something, not something that happened long ago, nor something that happened continually in the past. It cannot refer to a general time in the past. For that we use “previously” or “in the past”. For example, “Last time in class we studied algebra”.
If you said “Last time Romans wore shorts”, you are obviously a time traveling Time Lord.
Put in order or tidy up. For example “Keep your books” (which means “put your books away”)
To hold or retain in one’s possession as one’s own. “Please keep the mats” (Take the mats away, you now own them)
Don’t be surprised if someone takes, whatever you asked them to ‘keep’, away with them.
Do something for someone else. “Can you help post these letters” (which means “Can you post these letters”)
‘Help’ in this form is to give aid or assistance. “Could you help me carry this table.”
The casual phrase “can you help me buy…” or “can you help post these letters” would seem a little strange in native English speaking countries. This sounds like you need assistance or aid, rather than you need someone to do something for you.
If you asked someone to help you buy water, they would think you were unable to perform the task on your own and need assistance in simple shopping transactions.
To accompany or go with someone. “You follow me” (which means “You can come along with me”)
To go after someone, to proceed behind or to come after as in pursuit of.
If you said “I’ll follow you”, this would imply that you will walk behind them like a mad stalker.
More Words and Phrases
Word / Phrase
|9. Bath / Bathe||“Go and take your bath! Or “Go and bathe”. To mean go take a shower.||To have a bath or bathe in a bathtub.|
|10. Boring||People use boring instead of bored. “I think you are boring”||To say someone is boring or you are boring has negative connotations regarding personality (uninteresting person).|
|11. Bungalow||A detached two or three story home.||A type of single-storey house|
|12. Marketing||When we go to the market or|
|Marketing is used to describe what companies do when they promote a product|
|13. Off day||A day when people do not go to work||A day in which you are not at your normal level of performance|
|14. Outstation||When you are out of town, or away overseas.||You are going off to a station in a remote or sparsely populated location.|
|15. Pass Up||To give in something to someone. Example “Pass up your homework”||Pass up is used when talking about chances or offers to do something|
|16. Revert||Reply. “Revert to me at this address.”||To regress or go back to a former condition. “Revert to me” literally means they are asking you to become them.|
|17. Taken||To eat; to have a meal – “Have you taken your lunch?”||Taken my lunch where?|
|18. You know how to eat?||Do you eat this kind of dish, and do you like to eat it?||Do you know the method or art of eating (e.g. open mouth, insert food, chew, and swallow)?|